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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Showtime! But first,
a word from ...

THE older you get, the fewer surprises there are in life. But the ones that come along are doozies.

Like the idea that some local movie theater operators are testing the idea of showing commercials before they show the movies. I don't go to a lot of movies in theaters because of my extraordinary talent of managing to sit next to the most annoying person in the theater. You'd think that with the lights down dim you could walk into a theater and the odds would be that you'd end up sitting next to a human being.

Not even. I manage to sit next to people who hog both arm rests, even though their official arm rest is on the aisle. And they ask you to hold their popcorn so they can gorge themselves on Milk Duds and a 40-gallon container of soda. Between their mass consumption of junk food they somehow manage to give a running commentary on the movie and laugh at inappropriate places, like where a sympathetic hero gets his throat slit. Ya see that? What a hoot!

Or I manage to seat myself behind a woman with hair that is going to take over the planet, and who also is doused with a perfume that seems to be a combination of Lysol and Raid.

That's why I usually wait for movies to come out on video. Sure, "Jurassic Park" wasn't quite as dramatic on a 19-inch television screen, but at least I got through it without someone's Coke spilled in my lap. Well, I still got Coke spilled in my lap. But it's MY Coke, man. And let me tell you, those 19-inch-high T. rexs were still pretty scary.

Along with having to deal with movie-goers, who my father used to call "The Great Unwashed," now you have to watch commercials before the movie. Why not just sit in the parking lot and stick needles in your eyes?

THE reason people go to movies in theaters is to see something on the big screen and that something is the movie, not commercials. If we wanted to sit around annoying people while trying to watch a movie that included commercials, we would stay at home. (Not at my house, but, you know, houses in general.)

I believe in the free market so I think this curious attempt to show commercials at movie theaters will die on the vine. People are not going to spend $5 for a box of popcorn for the privilege of watching a commercial trying to get you to buy a certain toilet cleanser, no matter how big and awesome the toilet appears on the screen.

Another surprise about life, which comes along every election cycle, is how many rich people are using what amounts to slave labor as housekeepers and nannies. When Bill Clinton was elected president, he nominated Zoe Baird as attorney general. It turned out she was using a cut-rate nanny. Then we found out that all kinds of rich people were using illegal immigrants as housekeepers and lawn boys. The Republicans were ecstatic.

Now it looks like President-elect George Bush's pick for labor secretary, Linda Chavez, may have been using an illegal Guatemalan immigrant as a housekeeper. Exploitation apparently knows no party lines.

My question is: Where can I find this kind of domestic help? If I had someone from Argentina to look after my kid and do the windows for 50 bucks a month, I might actually consider taking my wife to the theater every once in a while. Or at least rent a few more movies.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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